Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Wonderings on Wanderings: Transforming My Blog into a Travel Memoir

Friday, January 9, 2015

Wonderings on Wanderings: Transforming My Blog into a Travel Memoir

writing under a gazebo in Las Vegas
There were three steps I followed to transform my blog into a travel memoir. In March of 2010 Silly Willy and Fluffy, friends we met on the camping trail, taught me how to set up one. For two years it languished undiscovered, just read by a small group of travel bloggers in Entrecard, the bloggers’ platform at the time. It was my semi-private journal of what we did, where we went, and whom we met.

In December 2010, we met Father Jack of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in West Seattle, Bill’s long-time friend. He urged me to also write about wonderings about our wanderings. Thus, aside from OLAs or Our Lifestyle Adventures, I started to write WOWs or Wonderings on Wanderings. WOWs became a record of my analyses, thoughts, and insights of and about our adventures. Then I did the following:

1. I threaded my posts into a complete story.

In January of 2013, with a couple of hundred posts on the blog and just Nevada to complete our trail, my husband and I spent a month apart from each other; Bill helped his son in Boise, Idaho and I visited my daughter and her family in Kent, Washington. I seized the opportunity to compile my posts into a draft. Voila, I had a book! Because of what was going on at the time, I wanted the book to be a travel memoir that inspires, not a travel guide that informs.
2. I tried to make my story come alive.

To do this, I had to find my narrative arc, the chronological construction of the story using exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The arc is a way of telling a story of substantial personal growth and change in the midst of experiences and conflicts. In those four years of cruising I went from a jet-setting corporate executive to an RV-cruising continental traveler, a driven single lady to an almost, but not quite, domesticated wife, and an ambitious Filipino to an almost, but not quite, laid-back American.   

3. I made sure my facts are correct and the language better. 

Friends told me that the facts used must all be capable of being verified. This led me to research data about some of the things I cited. I wanted to know for myself, for example, how many Filipinos there were in America and in which cities they are more likely to be found. This part was easy because of the internet.

But the other suggestion was more difficult: "showing” rather than "telling”. I had to describe more sensory details about places, people, and feelings rather than just flatly citing them. The task was to engage the reader more by making him almost touch, taste, see, hear, and smell things. Since I had been so used to just “telling” people what to do, it is no surprise I have to work doubly hard in this step.

The resulting first draft was around 90,000 words, recording every single place we had been to and every single person we enjoyed it with. I was so proud of myself! Editorial evaluations would show how much I had to trim down the story to make the arc come alive more (please see my next post on "Editing my Book").

The writing of this book is my second journey. The first was our cruising in an RV from Seattle in 2009 to Phoenix in 2013. The second, the more intensely internal one, is that of writing about the first by blogging weekly since 2010 and then transforming the blog into a travel memoir by 2014. I enjoyed the first immensely and the second has become a significant journey in my life. 

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